Mixtape: Past & Present
If you're familiar with Agallah, it'll probably be for one of three reasons: "Rising To The Top" being featured on the Game FM radio station in Grand Theft Auto III. His tenure with the Dipset 2nd-stringer group Purple City who scored a minor hit in 2005 with "Purple City Byrdgang." Or his Da Capo Best Music Writing 2013-worthy review of Jay-Z's Magna Carter Holy Grail on Facebook, which went viral last year.
But The Don Bishop Agallah is nearly 20 years deep in the rap game now, having made his debut in 1995 as 8-Off The Assassin. At that time, he shaped (and allegedly ghost-produced) the more somber sound of Onyx's 2nd album All We Got Iz Us (one of the great winter in N.Y.C albums) and recorded a handful of 12" single cuts like "Ghetto Girl," "Neighborhood Hoe," and "Alize For Dolo" remix for his own debut album Wrap Your Lips Around This. The latter project ended up shelved due to his unfortunate rap moniker at the time (note to rappers: best not to name yourself after a genocidal maniac who killed over 5 million Jewish people.)
And you can still depend on him for the odd joint or three even now, if you're itching for some new hard-nosed Rotten Apple rap from a dude with a voice like dead leaves rustling on filthy Brownsville paving slabs. Which brings us to his latest release, the Past And Present mixtape with Alchemist.
This isn't a finely-honed full length in the style of Alan The Chemist's recent projects with Prodigy and Boldy James, but a ragtag collection of old and new songs, some of which are produced by Agallah himself. Unsurprisingly, the lead-off single "Blaze Of Glory" with Roc Marciano is the 'tape's highlight. But its most interesting track is today's Deep Cut "Vange," where Agallah returns to the lugubriousness of Onyx's All We Got Iz Us. It's a rare moment of introspection from someone whose entire rap career has been built on hostility and ludicrous amounts of shit-talking.